Hawaii helicopter crash: US Navy contractor IDs 4 killed near Kauai missile facility

Hawaii helicopter crash: US Navy contractor IDs 4 killed near Kauai missile facility

February 24, 2022

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The four people killed in a civilian contracted helicopter crash in Hawaii on Tuesday have been identified, according to a report.

Croman Corp., the civilian contractor working for the U.S. Navy that was flying the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, identified the aircraft’s chief pilot Wednesday as Daniel Maurice, 64, of Lyle, Washington.

The three other employees on board, Patrick Rader, 55, Ericka Tevez-Valdez, 42, and Mathew Haider, 44, were also killed. Rader was the command pilot while Tevez-Valdez and Haider were mechanics. They were all residents of the Hawaii island of Kauai.

Matthew Haider, a mechanic who was among four people who died in a helicopter crash off Kauai, is seen in a Nov. 28, 2021, photo provided by Penny Haider. (Associated Press)

Haider, who was originally from Springfield, Oregon, has a wife and two children from a previous marriage, his mother, Penny Haider, told The Associated Press. The helicopter mechanic lived on Kauai for two years and took his job seriously, his mom said. 

“Matt was a very action-oriented type of person,” Penny Haider said. “Even though this work was intense, he thrived on that intensity.”

The crash occurred just after 10 a.m. near the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai County. A PMRF statement said the helicopter was flying in support of a range training operation when it crashed near the north area of the Barking Sands installation. Croman said its crew was under contract with the Navy. 

Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, a U.S. naval facility, is the world’s largest instrumented, “multi-dimensional” testing and training missile range, according to the U.S. Navy. 

Radar and communication equipment at Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii, USA.

“PMRF is the only range in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously,” the Navy added. 

On its website, Croman, which is based in Oregon, describes itself as one of the world’s most experienced operators of Sikorsky S-61 helicopters. It has provided commercial air support service to the Navy at the base since 2007. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash, which occurred the same day that two Black Hawk helicopters were involved in a training accident in Utah.

No crew members were injured during that training accident, according to the Utah National Guard. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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